A survey by the company Owl Labs indicates that the majority of Swedes, especially younger ones, are positive about the physical meeting both in professional and private contexts. An important piece of the puzzle for maintaining a hybrid work culture that actually works.
After a longer period where the digital meeting has often had to replace the physical one, we see increased positivism for the physical meeting, especially among the younger generation. In a new survey from the collaborative technology company Owl Labs conducted in collaboration with Novus, seven out of ten (70%) Swedes say they are positive about physical meetings in professional contexts and that more than eight out of ten (82%) Swedes feel positive about physical meetings in private contexts.
But even if more meetings take place in physical form, it will continue to be just as common to include participants via a video link – hybrid meetings, or completely digital meetings. Hybrid work is just that – flexibility to be able to mix freely between the digital and the physical, which is what employees today strive for. Especially the younger generation.
Flexible working is a deal breaker
Although we now see an increased positive attitude towards the physical meeting, the possibilities of being able to choose from where, when and in what way one works and conducts meetings is a very important aspect. A previous survey by Owl Labs (Feb 2022), shows that almost half (43%) of workers in Sweden would turn down a job if flexible hours were not offered and one in three, 30%, would turn down if they were not allowed a flexible workplace. 1 in 3 (33%) of employees state that if a future employer required them to work from the office full-time, they would decline the job offer.
“The lost generation” strives for pure hybrid work
“The lost generation” is sometimes called those who, right at the beginning of their career or right after graduation, had to work from home during the pandemic, without the same personal introduction to the company, the employees and its culture, as it used to be. Of course, it is entirely possible to learn a new role and enter working life through digital meetings and collaboration. But the fact is that nothing beats personally introducing new employees into the organization, personally getting to exchange experiences with your new colleagues and getting to know and embrace an organization’s culture. The social and cultural aspects of a workplace are important and constitute a key component that must be prioritized in the remote and hybrid work model, where the digital meeting cannot fully replace physical contact.
Completely without the physical (which today is often not the case as most of it is hybrid work) it is also not as easy to build personal relationships and ties to a workplace, which means that some may find it easier to change jobs as soon as the opportunity presents itself indirectly there is not much that keeps the employee. The costs of employees resigning are often high, and prioritizing efforts that make hybrid work work as intended is often well worth it. The fact that young people are now more positively disposed to physical meetings can also be seen as a signal that they need precisely the physical presence at work that purely hybrid work entails.
As an organisation, it is therefore important to establish new guidelines and collaboration tools for continued hybrid work but where space is given for the more personal, physical meeting. This can be achieved, for example, by gathering the employees with a number of scheduled physical meetings in the office every week, where there are certain requirements to come into the office x number of days a week. A good first step in finding good guidelines can often be to ask the employees what they think works best and then try to find a good middle ground.
To continue to support and maintain a functioning hybrid model, employers will also need to invest further in robust technology that creates an immersive work environment regardless of location. Investing in good collaboration equipment will ensure a fair experience for both office-based and remote employees. This will be a key factor in retaining employees and building corporate culture in a hybrid world.
Written by Frank Weishaupt, CEO, Owl Labs